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by Robert g. Ingersoll. 

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NEW YORK, .897. 



iT-VLtSi* ^>'CLt m 3XTot*T" Edition. 

Prose-Poems and Selections, 

BY 

ROBERT G. INGERSOLL, 

Sixth Edition, Revised and greatly Enlarged. A Handsome Quarto, 
containing over 400 pages. 

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As to the contents, it is enough to say that they include some of the choicest 
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You will have in this book of selections many bright samples of his lofty 
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Oration delivered on Decora- 
tion Day, 1882. before the 
Grand Army of the Repub- 
lic, at the Academy of 
Music, N". Y., 

A Tribute to Ebon C. Inger- 
soll, 

A Vision of War. 

At a Child's Gi ave, 

Benefits for Injuries, 

We Build, 

A Tribute to the Rev. Alex- 
ander Clark, 

The Grant Banquet, 

Apostrophe to Liberty, 

A Tribute to Jo Jin G. Mills, 

The Warp and Woof, 

The Cemetery, 

Originality, 

Then and Now, 

Voltaire, 

Lazarus. 

What is Worship ? 

Humboldt, 

God Silent, 

Alcohol, 

Auguste Comte, 

The Infidel, 

Napoleon, 

The Republic, 

Dawn of the New Day, 

Reformers, 

The Garden of Eden, 

Thomas Paine. 

The Age of Faith, 

Origin of Religion, 



CONTEXTS. 
The Unpardonable Sin, 
The Olive Branch, 
Free Will. 
The King of Death, 
The Wise Man, 
Bruno, 

The Real Bible, 
Benedict Spinoza, 
The First Doubt, 
The Infinite Horror, 
Nature, 

Night and Morning, 
The Conflict, 
Death of the Aged, 
The Charity of Extravagance 
Woman, ' 

The Sacred Myths, 
Inspiration, 

Religious Liberty of the Bible. 
The Laugh of a child, 
The Christian Night, 
My Choice, 
Why? 

Imagination. 
Science, 

If Death Ends All, 
Here and There, 
How Long ? 
Liberty. 

Jehovah and Brahma, 
The Free Soui, 
Life, 
Tribute to Henry Ward 

Beecher, 
Tribute to Courtlandt Palmer 
The Brain, 



The Sacred Leaves, 

Origin and Destiny, 

What is Poetry ? 

My Position, 

Good and Bad, 

The Miraculous Book, 

Orthodox Dotage, 

The Abolitionists, 

Providence, 

The Man Christ, 

The Divine Salutation. 

At the Grave of Benjamin W. 

Parker, 
Fashion and Beauty. 
Apostrophe to Science, 
Elizur Wright. 
The Imagination, 
No Respecter of Persons, 
Abraham Lincoln, 
The Meaning of Law, 
What is Blasphemy? 
Some Reasons, 
Selections, 
Love, 

The Birthnlace of Burns, 
Mrs. Ida Whiting Knowles, 
Art and Morality, 
Tribute to Ro^coe Conklin, 
Tribute to Rich'd H.Whiting 
Mrs. Mary H. Fiske, 
Horace Seave^, 
The Music of Wagner, 
Leaves of Grass, 
Vivisection, 

The Republic of Mediocrity, 
A Tribute to Walt Whitma n 



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Address C. P. FARRELL, Publisher, 

July, 1895. New York City, N.Y 




THANKSGIVING SERMON 



BY 



Robert G. Ingersoll. 



ALSO, 



A Tribute to Henry Ward Beecher 



I thank the heroes, the apostles of reason, the disciples of truth, the soldiers of 
freedom — the heroes who held high the holy torch and filled the world with light. 



C P. FARRELL, PUBLISHER, 
NEW YORK, 



1897. 




TWO COPIES RECEIVED 



« 



<\^ 



>1 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1897, 

BY C. P. FARRELL, 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C. 



The Eckler. Prejj 

v3v5 rULTON v5T. 

New York. 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

MANY ages ago our fathers were living 
in dens and caves. Their bodies, their 
low foreheads, were covered with hair. They 
were eating berries, roots, bark and vermin. 
They were fond of snakes and raw fish. 
They discovered fire and, probably by acci- 
dent, learned how to cause it by friction. 
They found how to warm themselves — to 
fight the frost and storm. They fashioned 
clubs and rude weapons of stone with which 
they killed the larger beasts and now and 
then each other. Slowly, painfully, almost 
imperceptibly they advanced. They crawled 
and stumbled, staggered and struggled to- 
wards the light. To them the world was un- 
known. On every hand was the mysterious, 
the sinister, the hurtful. The forests were 

filled with monsters and the darkness was 

(i) 



2 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

crowded with ghosts, devils, and fiendish 
gods. 

These poor wretches were the slaves of fear, 
the sport of dreams. 

Now and then, one rose a little above his 
fellows — used his senses — the little reason 
that he had — found something new—some 
better way. Then the people killed him and 
afterwards knelt with reverence at his grave. 
Then another thinker gave his thought — 
was murdered — another tomb became sacred 
—another step was taken in advance. And 
so through countless years of ignorance and 
cruelty — of thought and crime— of murder 
and worship, of heroism, suffering, and self- 
denial, the race has reached the heights where 
now we stand. 

Looking back over the long and devious 
roads that lie between the barbarism of the 
past and the civilization of to-day, thinking 
of the centuries that rolled like waves between 
these distant shores, we can form some idea 
of what our fathers suffered — of the mistakes 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 3 

they made- — some idea of their ignorance, 
their stupidity — and some idea of their sense, 
their goodness, their heroism. 

It is a long road from the savage to the 
scientist — from a den to a mansion — from 
leaves to clothes — from a flickering rush to 
the arc-light — from a hammer of stone to the 
modern mill — a long distance from the pipe 
of Pan to the violin — to the orchestra — from 
a floating log to the steamship — from a sickle 
to a reaper — from a flail to a threshing ma- 
chine — from a crooked stick to a plow — from 
a spinning wheel to a spinning jenny — from 
a hand loom to a Jaccard — a Jaccard that 
weaves fair forms and wondrous flowers be- 
yond Arachne's utmost dream — from a few 
hieroglyphics on the skins of beasts — on bricks 
of clay — to a printing press, to a library— a 
long distance from the messenger, traveling 
on foot, to the electric spark — from knives 
and tools of stone to those of steel — a long 
distance from sand to telescopes — from echo 
*to the phonograph, the phonograph that 



4 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

buries in indented lines and dots the sounds 
of living speech, and then gives back to life 
the very words and voices of the dead — a 
long way from the trumpet to the telephone, 
the telephone that transports speech as swift 
as thought and drops the words, perfect as 
minted coins, in listening ears — a long way 
from a fallen tree to the suspension bridge — 
from the dried sinews of beasts to the cables of 
steel — from the oar to the propeller — from the 
sling to the rifle — from the catapult to the 
cannon — a long distance from revenge to 
law — from the club to the legislature — from 
slavery to freedom — from appearance to fact 
— from fear to reason. 

And yet the distance has been traveled by 
the human race. Countless obstructions have 
been overcome — numberless enemies have 
been .conquered — thousands and thousands 
of victories have been won for the right and 
millions have lived, labored and died for their 
fellowmen. 

For the blessings we enjoy — for the happi- 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 5 

ness that is ours, we ought to be grateful. 
Our hearts should blossom with thankful- 
ness. 

Whom, what, should we thank? 

Let us be honest — generous. 

Should we thank the church ? 

Christianity has controlled Christendom for 
at least fifteen hundred years. 

During these centuries what have the 
orthodox churches, accomplished for the 
good of man ? 

In this life man needs raiment and roof, 
food and fuel. He must be protected from 
heat and cold, from snow and storm. He 
must take thought for the morrow. In the 
summer of youth he must prepare for the 
winter of age. He must know something of 
the causes of disease — of the conditions of 
health. If possible he must conquer pain, 
increase happiness and lengthen life. He 
must supply the wants of the body — and feed 
the hunger of the mind. 

What good has the church done ? 



6 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

Has it taught man to cultivate the earth ? 
to build homes ? to weave cloth ? to cure or 
prevent disease ? to build ships, to navigate 
the seas ? to conquer pain, or to lengthen 
life? 

Did Christ or any of his apostles add to the 
sum of useful knowledge ? Did they say one 
word in favor of any science, of any art? 
Did they teach their fellowmen how to make 
2 living— how to overcome the obstructions 
of nature, how to prevent sickness — how to 
protect themselves from pain, from famine, 
from misery and rags ? 

Did they explain any of the phenomena of 
nature ? any of the facts that affect the life of 
man ? Did they say anything in favor of in- 
vestigation — of study — of thought? Did 
they teach the gospel of self-reliance, of in- 
dustry — of honest effort? Can any farmer, 
mechanic, or scientist find in the New Testa- 
ment one useful fact? Is there anything in 
the sacred book that can help the geologist ? 
the astronomer? the biologist, the physician, 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 7 

the inventor — the manufacturer of any use- 
ful thing? 

What has the church done ? 

From the very first it taught the vanity — 
the worthlessness of all earthly things. It 
taught the wickedness of wealth, the blessed- 
ness of poverty. It taught that the business 
of this life was to prepare for death. It 
insisted that a certain belief was necessary 
to insure salvation, and that all who failed 
to believe, or doubted in the least would suffer 
eternal pain. According to the church the 
natural desires, ambitions and passions of man 
were all wicked and depraved. 

To love God — to practice self-denial — to 
overcome desire — to despise wealth — to hate 
prosperity — to desert wife and children — to 
live on roots and berries — to repeat prayers — 
to wear rags — to live in filth and drive love 
from the heart — these, for centuries were the 
highest and most perfect virtues and those 
who practiced them were saints. 

The saints did not assist their fellowmen. 



8 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

Their fellowmen assisted them. They did 
not labor for others. They were beggars- 
parasites — vermin. They were insane. They 
followed the teachings of Christ. They took 
no thought for the morrow. They mutilated 
their bodies— scarred their flesh and destroyed 
their minds for the sake of happiness in an- 
other world. During the journey of life they 
kept their eyes on the grave. They gathered 
no flowers by the way — they walked in the 
dust of the road — avoided the green fields. 
Their moans made all the music they wished 
to hear. The babble of brooks, the songs of 
birds, the laughter of children, were nothing 
to them. Pleasure was the child of sin, and 
the happy needed a change of heart. They 
were sinless and miserable — but they had 
faith — they were pious and wretched — but 
they were limping towards heaven. 

What has the church done ? 

It has denounced pride and luxury — all 
things that adorn and enrich life — all the 
pleasures of sense — the ecstacies of love — 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 9 

the happiness of the hearth — the clasp and 
kiss of wife and child. 

And the church has done this because it 
regarded this life as a period of probation — 
a time to prepare—to become spiritual — to 
overcome the natural — to fix the affections on 
the invisible — to become passionless — to sub- 
due the flesh — to congeal the blood — to fold 
the wings of fancy — to become dead to the 
world — so that when you appeared before 
God you would be the exact opposite of what 
he made you. 

What has the church done ? 

It pretended to have a revelation from 
God. It knew the road to eternal joy, the 
way to death. It preached salvation by 
faith, and declared that only orthodox be- 
lievers could become angels, and all doubt- 
ers would be damned. It knew this, and 
so knowing it became the enemy of dis- 
cussion, of investigation, of thought. Why 
investigate, why discuss, why think when 
you know? It sought to enslave the world. 



IO A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

It appealed to force. It unsheathed the 
sword, lighted the fagot, forged the chain, 
built the dungeon, erected the scaffold, in- 
vented and used the instruments of tor- 
ture. It branded, maimed and mutilated — 
it imprisoned and tortured — it blinded and 
burned, hanged and \ crucified, and utterly 
destroyed millions and millions of human 
beings. It touched every nerve of the 
body — produced every pain that can be felt, 
every agony that can be endured. 

And it did all this to preserve what it called 
the truth — to destroy heresy and doubt, and 
to save, if possible, the souls of a few. It 
was honest. It was necessary to prevent the 
development of the brain — to arrest all prog- 
ress — and to do this the church used all its 
power. If men were allowed to think and 
express their thoughts they would fill their 
minds and the minds of others with doubts. 
If they were allowed to think they would in- 
vestigate, and then they might contradict the 
creed, dispute the words of priests and defy 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. I I 

the church. The priests cried to the people : 
" It is for us to talk. It is for you to hear. 
Our duty is to preach and yours is to believe. " 

What has the church done ? 

There have been thousands of councils 
and synods— thousands and thousands of 
occasions when the clergy have met and 
discussed and quarrelled — when pope and 
cardinals, bishops and priests have added 
to or explained their creeds — and denied 
the rights of others. What useful truth 
did they discover? What fact did they find? 
Did they add to the intellectual wealth of 
the world ? Did they increase the sum of 
knowledge ? 

I admit that they looked over a number 
of Jewish books and picked out the ones 
that Jehovah wrote. 

Did they find the medicinal virtue that 
dwells in any weed or flower ? 

I know that they decided that the Holy 
Ghost was not created — not begotten — but 
that he proceeded. 



12 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

Did they teach us the mysteries of the 
metals and how to purify the ores in furnace 
flames ? 

They shouted: " Great is the mystery of 
Godliness. " 

Did they show us how to improve our con- 
dition in this world ? 

They informed us that Christ had two na- 
tures and two wills. 

Did they give us even a hint as to any 
useful thing? 

They gave us predestination, foreordina- 
tion and just enough "free will " to go to 
hell. 

Did they discover or show us how to pro- 
duce anything for food ? 

Did they produce anything to satisfy the 
hunger of man ? 

Instead of this they discovered that a 
peasant girl who lived in Palestine, was the 
mother of God. This they proved by a book, 
and to make the book evidence they called it 
inspired. 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 13 

Did they tell us anything about chemistry 
— -how to combine and separate substances — 
how to subtract the hurtful — how to produce 
the useful? 

They told us that bread, by making certain 
motions and mumbling certain prayers, could 
be changed into the flesh of God, and that in 
the same way wine could be changed to his 
blood. And this, notwithstanding the fact 
that God never had any flesh or blood, but 
has always been a spirit without body, parts 
or passions. 

What has the church done ? 

It gave us the history of the world — of 
the stars, and the beginning of all things. 
It taught the geology of Moses — the as- 
tronomy of Joshua and Elijah. It taught 
the Fall of man and the atonement — prov- 
ed that a Jewish peasant was God — estab- 
lished the existence of Hell, Purgatory and 
Heaven. 

It pretended to have a revelation from God 
— the Scriptures, in which could be found all 



14 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

knowledge—everything that man could need 
in the journey of life. Nothing outside of the 
inspired book — except legends and prayers — 
could be of any value. Books that contra- 
dicted the Bible were hurtful, those that 
agreed with it — -useless. Nothing was of 
importance except faith, credulity — belief. 
The church said : " Let philosophy alone, 
count your beads. Ask no questions, fall 
upon your knees. Shut your eyes, and 
save your souls." 

What has the church done ? 

For centuries it kept the earth flat — -for 
centuries it made all the hosts of heaven 
travel around this world — for centuries it 
clung to " sacred " knowledge and fought 
facts with the ferocity of a fiend. For cen- 
turies it hated the useful. It was the deadly 
enemy of medicine. Disease was produced 
by devils and could be cured only by priests, 
decaying bones and holy water. Doctors 
were the rivals of priests. They diverted 
the revenues. 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 15 

The church opposed the study of anatomy 
— was against the dissection of the dead. 
Man had no right to cure disease — God 
would do that through his priests. 

Man had no right to prevent disease — dis- 
eases were sent by God as judgments. 

The church opposed innoculation — vaccin- 
ation, and the use of chloroform and ether. 
It was declared to be a sin, a crime for a 
woman to lessen the pangs of motherhood. 
The church declared that woman must bear 
the curse of the merciful Jehovah. 

What has the church done ? 

It taught that the insane were inhabited 
by devils. Insanity was not a disease. It 
was produced by demons. It could be cured 
by prayers — gifts, amulets and charms. All 
these had to be paid for. This enriched the 
church. These ideas were honestly enter- 
tained by Protestants as well as Catholics — 
by Luther, Calvin, Knox and Wesley. 

What has the church done ? 

It taught the awful doctrine of witchcraft. 



l6 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

It filled the darkness with demons — the air 
with devils, and the world with grief and 
shame. It charged men, women and children 
with being in league with Satan to injure 
their fellows. Old women were convicted for 
causing storms at sea — for preventing rain 
and for bringing frost. Girls were convicted 
for having changed themselves into wolves, 
snakes and toads. These witches were 
burned for causing diseases — for selling their 
souls and for souring beer. All these things 
were done with the aid of the devil who 
sought to persecute the faithful, the lambs of 
God. Satan sought in many ways to scan- 
dalize the church. He sometimes assumed 
the appearance of a priest and committed 
crimes. 

On one occasion he personated a bishop — 
a bishop renowned for his sanctity — allowed 
himself to be discovered and dragged from 
the room of a beautiful widow. So perfectly 
did he counterfeit the features and form of 
the bishop, that many who were well ac- 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 1 7 

quainted with the prelate, were actually de- 
ceived, and the widow herself thought her 
lover was the bishop. All this was done by 
the devil to bring reproach upon holy men. 

Hundreds of like instances could be given, 
as the war waged between demons and priests 
was long and bitter. 

These popes and priests — these clergymen, 
were not hypocrites. They believed in the 
New Testament — in the teachings of Christ, 
and they knew that the principal business of 
the Savior was casting out devils. 

What has the church done ? 

It made the wife a slave — the property 
of the husband, and it placed the husband as 
much above the wife as Christ was above 
the husband. It taught that a nun is purer, 
nobler than a mother. It induced millions 
of pure and conscientious girls to renounce 
the joys of life — to take the veil woven of 
night and death, to wear the habiliments of 
the dead — made them believe that they were 
the brides of Christ. 



l8 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

For my part I would as soon be a widow 
as the bride of a man who had been dead for 
eighteen hundred years. 

The poor deluded girls imagined that they, 
in some mysterious way, were in spiritual 
wedlock united with God. All worldly de- 
sires were driven from their hearts. They 
filled their lives with fastings — with prayers 
— with self-accusings. They forgot fathers 
and mothers and gave their love to the in- 
visible. They were the victims, the convicts 
of superstition — prisoners in the peniten- 
tiaries of God. Conscientious, good, sin- 
cere — insane. 

These loving women gave their hearts to 
a phantom, their lives to a dream. 

A few years ago, at a revival, a fine buxom 
girl was "converted," " born again." In her 
excitement she cried, "I'm married to Christ 
—I'm married to Christ." In her delirium 
she threw her arms around the neck of an old 
man and again cried "I'm married to Christ." 
The old man, who happened to be a kind of 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 19 

skeptic, gently removed her hands, saying 
at the same time : " I don't know much 
about your husband, but I have great respect 
for your father-in-law." 

Priests, theologians, have taken advantage 
of women — of their gentleness — their love of 
approbation. They have lived upon their 
hopes and fears. Like vampires, they have 
sucked their blood. They have made them 
responsible for the sins of the world. They 
have taught them the slave virtues — meek- 
ness, humility — implicit obedience. They 
have fed their minds with mistakes, mysteries 
and absurdities. They have endeavored to 
weaken and shrivel their brains, until, to 
them, there would be no possible connection 
between evidence and belief — between fact 
and faith. 

What has the church done? 

It was the enemy of commerce — of busi- 
ness. It denounced the taking of interest 
for money. Without taking interest for 
money, progress is impossible. The steam- 



20 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

ships, the great factories, the railroads have 
all been built with borrowed money, money 
on which interest was promised and for the 
most part paid. 

The church was opposed to fire insurance 
— to life insurance. It denounced insurance 
in any form as gambling, as immoral. To 
insure your life was to declare that you had 
no confidence in God — that you relied on a 
corporation instead of divine providence. It 
was declared that God would provide for 
your widow and your fatherless children. 

To insure your life was to insult Heaven. 

What has the church done ? 

The church regarded epidemics as the mes- 
sengers of the good God. The "Black Death" 
was sent by the eternal Father, whose mercy 
spared some and whose justice murdered the 
rest. To stop the scourge, they tried to soften 
the heart of God by kneelings and prostrations 
— by processions and prayers — by burning 
incense and by making vows. They did not 
try to remove the cause. The cause was 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 21 

God. They did not ask for pure water, but 
for holy water. Faith and filth lived , or 
rather died together. Religion and rags, 
piety and pollution kept company. 

Sanctity kept its odor. 

What has the church done ? 

It was the enemy of art and literature. It 
destroyed the marbles of Greece and Rome. 
Beauty was Pagan. It destroyed so far as 
it could the best literature of the world. It 
feared thought — but it preserved the scrip- 
tures, the ravings of insane saints, the false- 
hoods of the Fathers, the bulls of popes, the 
accounts of miracles performed by shrines, 
by dried blood and faded hair, by pieces of 
bones and wood, by rusty nails and thorns, 
by handkerchiefs and rags, by water and 
beads and by a finger of the holy Ghost. 

This was the literature of the church. 

I admit that the priests were honest — as 
honest as ignorant. More could not be 
said. 

What has the church done ? 



22 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

Christianity claims, with great pride, that it 
established asylums for the insane. Yes it 
did. But the insane were treated as criminals. 
They were regarded as the homes — as the 
tenement-houses of devils. They were per- 
secuted and tormented. They were chained 
and flogged, starved and killed. The asy- 
lums were prisons, dungeons, the insane 
were victims and the keepers were ignorant, 
conscientious, pious fiends. They were not 
trying to help men, they were fighting devils 
— destroying demons. They were not actu- 
ated by love— but by hate and fear. 

What has the church done ? 

It founded schools where facts were denied, 
where science was denounced and philosophy 
despised. Schools, where priests were made 
— where they were taught to hate reason and 
to look upon doubts as the suggestions of the 
devil. Schools where the heart was hardened 
and the brain shriveled. Schools in which 
lies were sacred and truths profane. Schools 
for the more general diffusion of ignorance — 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 23 

schools to prevent thought — to suppress 
knowledge. Schools for the purpose of en- 
slaving the world. Schools in which teach- 
ers knew less than pupils. 

What has the church done ? 

It has used its influence with God to get rain 
and sunshine — to stop flood and storm — to kill 
insects, rats, snakes and wild beasts — to stay 
pestilence and famine — to delay frost and 
snow — to lengthen the lives of kings and 
queens — to protect presidents — to give legis- 
lators wisdom — to increase collections and 
subscriptions. In marriages it has made God 
the party of the third part. It has sprinkled 
water on babes when they were named. It 
has put oil on the dying and repeated prayers 
for the dead. It has tried to protect the peo- 
ple from the malice of the devil — from ghosts 
and spooks, from witches and wizards and all 
the leering fiends that seek to poison the 
souls of men. It has endeavored to protect 
the sheep of God from the wolves of science 
— from the wild beasts of doubt and investi- 



24 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

gation. It has tried to wean the lambs of the 
Lord from the delights, the pleasures, the 
joys of life. According to the philosophy of 
the church, the virtuous weep and suffer, the 
vicious laugh and thrive, the good carry a 
cross, and the wicked fly. But in the next 
life this will be reversed. Then, the good 
will be happy, and the bad will be damned. 

The church filled the world with faith and 
crime. 

It polluted the fountains of joy. It gave 
us an ignorant, jealous, revengeful and cruel 
God — sometimes merciful — sometimes fero- 
cious. Now just, now infamous — sometimes 
wise — generally foolish. It gave us a devil, 
cunning, malicious, almost the equal of God, 
not quite as strong — but quicker — not as 
profound — but sharper. 

It gave us angels with wings — cherubins 
and seraphim and a heaven with harps and 
hallelujahs — with streets of gold and gates of 
pearl. 

It gave us fiends and imps with wings like 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 25 

bats. It gave us ghosts and goblins, spooks 
and sprites, and little devils that swarmed in 
the bodies of men, and it gave us hell where 
the souls of men will roast in eternal flames. 
Shall we thank the church ? Shall we thank 
the orthodox churches ? 

Shall we thank them for the hell they made 
here ? Shall we thank them for the hell of 
the future ? 



II. 

We must remember that the church was 
founded and has been protected by God, 
that all the popes and cardinals, all the 
bishops, priests and monks, all the ministers 
and exhorters were selected and set apart — 
all sanctified and enlightened by the infinite 
God — that the Holy Scriptures were inspired 
by the same Being, and that all the orthodox 
creeds were really made by Him. 

We know what these men — filled with the 
Holy Ghost have done. We know the part 
they have played. We know the souls they 
have saved and the bodies they have de- 
stroyed. We know the consolation they have 
given and the pain they have inflicted — the 
lies they have defended — the truths they have 
denied. We know that they convinced mil- 
lions that celibacy is the greatest of all vir- 

(26) 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 27 

tues — that women are perpetual temptations, 
the enemies of true holiness — that monks and 
priests are nobler than fathers, that nuns are 
purer than mothers. We know that they 
taught the blessed absurdity of the Trinity — 
that God once worked at the trade of a car- 
penter in Palestine. We know that they di- 
vided knowledge into sacred and profane — 
taught that Revelation was sacred — that Rea- 
son was blasphemous — that faith was holy 
and facts false. That the sin of Adam and 
Eve brought disease and pain, vice and death 
into the world. We know that they have 
taught the dogma of Special Providence — 
that all events are ordered and regulated by 
God — that he crowns and uncrowns kings — 
preserves and destroys — guards and kills — 
that it is the duty of man to submit to the 
divine will, and that no matter how much 
evil there may be — no matter how much suf- 
fering — how much pain and death, man 
should pour out his heart in thankfulness that 
it is no worse. 



28 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

Let me be understood. I do not say and I 
do not think that the church was dishonest, 
that the clergy were insincere. I admit that 
all religions, all creeds, all priests, have been 
naturally produced. I admit, and cheerfully 
admit, that the believers in the supernatural 
have done some good — not because they be- 
lieved in gods and devils — but in spite of it. 

I know that thousands and thousands of 
clergymen are honest, self-denying and hu- 
mane — that they are doing what they believe 
to be their duty — doing what they can to in- 
duce men and women to live pure and noble 
lives. This is not the result of their creeds — 
it is because they are human. 

What I say is that every honest teacher of 
the supernatural has been and is an uncon- 
scious enemy of the human race. 

What is the philosophy of the church — of 
those who believe in the supernatural ? 

Back of all that is — back of all events — 
Christians put an infinite Juggler who with a 
wish creates, preserves, destroys. The world 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 29 

is his stage and mankind his puppets. He 
fills them with wants and desires, with ap- 
petites and ambitions — with hopes and fears — 
with love and hate. He touches the springs. 
He pulls the strings — baits the hooks, sets 
the traps and digs the pits. 

The play is a continual performance. 

He watches these puppets as they struggle 
and fail. Sees them outwit each other and 
themselves — leads them to every crime, 
watches the births and deaths — hears lulla- 
bies at cradles and the fall of clods on coffins. 
He has no pity. — He enjoys the tragedies 
— the desperation — the despair — the suicides. 
He smiles at the murders, the assassinations, 
— the seductions, the desertions — the aban- 
doned babes of shame. He sees the weak 
enslaved — mothers robbed of babes — the in- 
nocent in dungeons — on scaffolds. He sees 
crime crowned and hypocrisy robed. 

He withholds the rain and his puppets 
starve. He opens the earth and they are 
devoured. He sends the flood and they are 



30 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

drowned. He empties the volcano and they 
perish in fire. He sends the cyclone and 
they are torn and mangled. With quick 
lightnings they are dashed to death. He 
fills the air and water with the invisible 
enemies of life — the messengers of pain and 
watches the puppets as they breathe and drink. 
He creates cancers to feed upon their flesh — 
their quivering nerves — serpents, to fill their 
veins with venom, — beasts to crunch their 
bones — to lap their blood. 

Some of the poor puppets he makes in- 
sane — makes them struggle in the darkness 
with imagined monsters with glaring eyes 
and dripping jaws and some are made with- 
out the flame of thought to drool and drivel 
through the darkened days. — He sees all the 
agony, the injustice, the rags of poverty, the 
withered hands of want — the motherless babes 
— the deformed — the maimed — the leprous, 
knows the tears that flow — hears the sobs 
and moans — sees the gleam of swords, hears 
the roar of the guns— : sees the fields reddened 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 3 1 

with blood — the white faces of the dead. But 
he mocks when their fear cometh, and at their 
calamity he fills the heavens with laughter. 
And the poor puppets who are left alive, 
fall on their knees and thank the Juggler with 
all their hearts. 

But after all the gods have not supported 
the children of men, men have supported the 
gods. They have built the temples. They 
have sacrificed their babes, their lambs, their 
cattle. They have drenched the altars with 
blood. They have given their silver, their 
gold, their gems. They have fed and clothed 
their priests — but the gods have given noth- 
ing in return. Hidden in the shadows they 
have answered no prayer — heard no cry — 
given no sign — extended no hand — uttered 
no word. Unseen and unheard they have 
sat on their thrones, deaf and dumb — para- 
lyzed and blind. In vain the steeples rise — 
in vain the prayers ascend. 

And think what man has done to please the 
gods. He has renounced his reason — ex- 



32 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

tinguished the torch of his brain, he has be- 
lieved without evidence and against evidence. 
He has slandered and maligned himself. He 
has fasted and starved. He has mutilated his 
body — scarred his flesh — given his blood to 
vermin. He has persecuted, imprisoned and 
destroyed his fellows. — He has deserted wife 
and child. He has lived alone in the desert. 
He has swung censers and burned incense, 
counted beads and sprinkled himself with holy 
water — shut his eyes, clasped his hands — 
fallen upon his knees and groveled in the 
dust — but the gods have been silent — silent 
as stones. 

Have these cringings and crawlings — -these 
cruelties and absurdities — this faith and fool- 
ishness pleased the gods? 

We do not know. 

Has any disaster been averted — any bless- 
ing obtained? We do not know. 

Shall we thank these Gods? 

Shall we thank the church's God? 

Who and what is he? 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 33 

They say that he is the creator and pre- 
server of all that has been — of all that is — of 
all that will be — that he is the father of 
angels and devils, the architect of heaven and 
hell — that he made the earth — a man and 
woman — that he made the serpent who tempt- 
ed them, made his own rival — gave victory to 
his enemy — that he repented of what he had 
done — that he sent a flood and destroyed all 
of the children of men with the exception of 
eight persons — that he tried to civilize the 
survivors and their children — tried to do this 
with earthquakes and fiery serpents — with 
pestilence and famine. — But he failed. He 
intended to fail. Then he was born into the 
world, preached for three years and allow- 
ed some savages to kill him. Then he 
rose from the dead and went back to 
heaven 

He knew that he would fail, knew that he 
would be killed. — In fact he arranged every- 
thing himself and brought everything to pass 
just as he had predestined it — an eternity — 



34 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

before the world was. All who believe these 
things will be saved and they who doubt or 
deny will be lost. 

Has this God good sense? 

Not always. — He creates his own enemies 
and plots against himself. Nothing lives, 
except in accordance with his will, and yet the 
devils do not die. 

What is the matter of this god? — Well, 
sometimes he is foolish — sometimes he is 
cruel and sometimes he is insane. 

Does this God exist? Is there any intelli- 
gence back of Nature? — Is there any Being 
anywhere among the stars who pities the^. 
suffering children of men? 

We do not know. — 

Shall we thank Nature ? 

Does Nature care for us more than for 
leaves, or grass, or flies ? 

Does Nature know that we exist ? We do 
not know. 

But we do know that Nature is going to 
murder us all. 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 35 

Why should we thank Nature? If we 
thank God or Nature for the sunshine 
and rain, for health and happiness, whom 
shall we curse for famine and pestilence, for 
earthquake and cyclone — for disease and 
death ? 



III. 

If we cannot thank the orthodox churches 
— if we cannot thank the unknown, the in- 
comprehensible, the supernatural — if we can- 
not thank Nature — if we cannot kneel to a 
Guess, or prostrate ourselves before a Per- 
haps — whom shall we thank ? 

Let us see what the worldly have done — 
what has been accomplished by those not 
"called," not "set apart," not "inspired," not 
filled with the Holy Ghost — by those who 
were neglected by all the gods. 

Passing over the Hindus, the Egyptians, 
the Greeks and Romans, their poets, philos- 
ophers and metaphysicians — we will come 
to modern times. 

In the ioth century after Christ the Sara- 
cens — governors of a vast empire — "estab- 

(36) 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 37 

lished colleges in Mongolia, Tartary, Persia, 
Mesopotamia, Syria, Epypt, North Africa, 
Morocco, Fez and in Spain. " The region 
owned by the Saracens was greater than the 
Roman Empire. "They had not only col- 
leges — but observatories. The sciences were 
taught. They introduced the ten numerals — 
taught algebra and trigonometry — understood 
cubic equations — knew the art of surveying — 
they made catalogues and maps of the stars — 
gave the great stars the names they still 
bear — they ascertained the size of the earth — 
determined the obliquity of the ecliptic and 
fixed the length of the year. They calculated 
eclipses, equinoxes, solstices, conjunctions of 
planets and occultations of stars. They con- 
structed astronomical instruments. They 
made clocks of various kinds and were the 
inventors of the pendulum. They originated 
chemistry — discovered sulphuric and nitric 
acid and alcohol. 

They were the first to publish pharma- 
copoeias and dispensatories. 



38 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

In mechanics they determined the laws 
of falling bodies. They understood the me- 
chanical powers, and the attraction of grav- 
itation. 

They taught hydrostatics and determined 
the specific gravities of bodies. 

In optics they discovered that a ray of light 
did not proceed from the eye to an object — 
but from the object to the eye." 

They were manufacturers of cotton, leather, 
paper and steel. "They gave us the game of 
chess." They produced romances and novels 
and essays on many subjects. 

"In their schools they taught the modern 
doctrines of evolution and development." 
They anticipated Darwin and Spencer. 

These people were not Christians. They 
were the followers, for the most part, of an 
impostor — of a pretended prophet of a false 
God. And yet while the true Christians, the 
men selected by the true God and filled with 
the Holy Ghost were tearing out the tongues 
of heretics, these wretches were irreverently 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 39 

tracing the orbits of the stars. While the 
true believers were flaying philosophers and 
extinguishing the eyes of thinkers, these god- 
less followers of Mohammed were founding 
colleges, collecting manuscripts, investigating 
the facts of nature and giving their attention 
to science. Afterwards the followers of Mo- 
hammed became the enemies of science and 
hated facts as intensely and honestly as 
Christians. Whoever has a revelation from 
God will defend it with all his strength — will 
abhor reason and deny facts. 

But it is well to know that we are indebted to 
the Moors — to the followers of Mohammed — 
for having laid the foundations of modern 
science. It is well to know that we are not 
indebted to the Church, to Christianity, for 
any useful fact. 

It is well to know that the seeds of thought 
were sown in our minds by the Greeks and 
Romans and that our literature came from 
those seeds. The great literature of our 
language is Pagan in its thought — Pagan in 



40 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

its beauty — Pagan in its perfection. It is 
well to know that when Mohammedans were 
the friends of science, Christians were its 
enemies. How consoling it is to think that 
the friends of science — the men who educated 
their fellows — are now in hell, and that the 
men who persecuted and killed philosophers 
are now in heaven ! Such is the justice of 
God. 

The Christians of the Middle Ages, the 
men who were filled with the Holy Ghost, 
knew all about the worlds beyond the grave, 
but nothing about the world in which they 
lived. They thought the earth was flat — a 
little dishing if anything — that it was about 
five thousand years old and that the stars 
were little sparkles made to beautify the 
night. 

The fact is that Christianity was in exist- 
ence for fifteen hundred years before there 
was an astronomer in Christendom. No 
follower of Christ knew the shape of the 
earth. 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 4 1 

The earth was demonstrated to be a globe, 
not by a Pope or Cardinal — not by a collec- 
tion of clergymen — not by the "called" or the 
"set apart," but by a sailor. Magellan left 
Seville, Spain, August ioth, 15 19, sailed west 
and kept sailing west, and the ship reached 
Seville, the port it left, on Sept. 7th, 1522. 

The world had been circumnavigated. The 
earth was known to be round. There had 
been a dispute between the Scriptures and a 
sailor. The fact took the sailor's side. 

In 1543 Copernicus published his book, 
"On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies." 

He had some idea of the vastness of the 
stars — of the astronomical spaces — of the 
insignificance of this world. 

Toward the close of the 16th century 
Bruno, one of the greatest men this world 
has produced, gave his thoughts to his fellow- 
men. He taught the plurality of worlds. He 
was a Pantheist, an Atheist, an honest man. 
He called the Catholic Church the "Triumph- 
ant Beast." He was imprisoned for many 



42 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

years, tried, convicted, and on the 16th day 
of February, 1600, burned in Rome by men 
filled with the Holy Ghost, burned on the spot 
where now his monument rises. Bruno, the 
noblest, the greatest of all the martyrs. The 
only one who suffered death for what he 
believed to be the truth. The only martyr 
who had no heaven to gain, no hell to shun, 
no God to please. He was nobler than 
inspired men, grander than prophets, greater 
and purer than apostles. Above all the theo- 
logians of the world, above the makers of 
creeds, above the founders of religions rose 
this serene, unselfish and intrepid man. 

Yet Christians, followers of Christ, mur- 
dered this incomparable man. These Chris- 
tians were true to their creed. They believed 
that faith would be rewarded with eternal joy 
and doubt punished with eternal pain. They 
were logical. They were pious and pitiless — 
devout and devilish- — meek and malicious — 
religious and revengeful — Christ-like and 
cruel— loving with their mouths and hating 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 43 

with their hearts. And yet, honest victims of 
ignorance and fear. 

What have the worldly done ? 

In 1608, Lippershay, a Hollander, so ar- 
ranged lenses that objects were exaggerated. 

He invented the telescope. 

He gave countless worlds to our eyes — 
and made us citizens of the Universe. 

In 1610, on the night of January 7th, 
Galileo demonstrated the truth of the Coper- 
nicum system, and in 1632 published his work 
on "The System of the World." 

What did the Church do ? 

Galileo was arrested, imprisoned, forced to 
fall upon his knees, put his hand on the Bible, 
and recant. For ten years he was kept in 
prison — for ten years until released by the 
pity of death. Then the Church — men filled 
with the Holy Ghost — denied his body burial 
in consecrated ground. It was feared that 
his dust might corrupt the bodies of those 
who had persecuted him. 

In 1609 Kepler published his book "Motions 



44 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

of the Planet Mars." He, too, knew of the 
attraction of gravitation and that it acted in 
proportion to mass and distance. Kepler 
announced his Three Laws. He found and 
mathematically expressed the relation of dis- 
tance, mass, and motion. Nothing greater 
has been accomplished by the human mind. 

Astronomy became a science and Christian- 
ity a superstition. 

Then came Newton, Herschel and La 
Place. The astronomy of Joshua and Elijah 
faded from the minds of intelligent men, and 
Jehovah became an ignorant tribal god. 

Men began to see that the operations of 
Nature were not subject to interference. That 
eclipses were not caused by the wrath of God 
— that comets had nothing to do with the 
destruction of empires or the death of kings, 
that the stars wheeled in their orbits without 
regard to the actions of men. In the sacred 
East the dawn appeared. 

What have the worldly done ? 

A few years ago a few men became wicked 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 45 

enough to use their senses. They began to 
look and listen. They began to really see 
and then they began to reason. They forgot 
heaven and hell long enough to take some 
interest in this world. They began to examine 
soils and rocks. They noticed what had been 
done by rivers and seas. They found out 
something about the crust of the earth. They 
found that most of the rocks had been de- 
posited and stratified in the water. Rocks 
70,000 feet in thickness. They found that the 
coal was once vegetable matter. They made 
the best calculations they could of the time 
required to make the coal, and concluded that 
it must have taken at least six or seven mill- 
ions of years. They examined the chalk 
cliffs, found that they were composed of the 
microscopic shells of minute organisms, that 
is to say, the dust of these shells. This dust 
settled over areas as large as Europe and in 
some places the chalk is a mile in depth. 
This must have required many millions of 
years. 



46 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

Lyell, the highest authority on the subject, 
says that it must have required, to cause the 
changes that we know, at least two hundred 
million years. Think of these vast deposits 
caused by the slow falling of infinitesimal 
atoms of impalpable dust through the si- 
lent depths of ancient seas ! Think of the 
microscopical forms of life, constructing 
their minute houses of lime, giving life to 
others, leaving their mansions beneath the 
waves, and so through countless generations 
building the foundations of continents and 
islands. 

Go back of all life that we now know — back 
of all the flying lizards, the armored monsters, 
the hissing serpents, the winged and fanged 
horrors — back to the Laurentian rocks — to 
the eozoon, the first of living things that we 
have found — back of all mountains, seas and 
rivers — back to the first incrustation of the 
molten world — back of wave of fire and robe 
of flame — back to the time when all the sub- 
stance of the earth blazed in the glowing sun 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 47 

with all the stars that wheel about the central 
fire. 

Think of the days and nights that lie 
between! — think of the centuries, the withered 
leaves of time, that strew the desert of the 
past! 

Nature does not hurry. Time cannot be 
wasted — cannot be lost. The future remains 
eternal and all the past is as though it had 
not been — as though it were to be. The in- 
finite knows neither loss nor gain. 

We know something of the history of the 
world — something of the human race ; and 
we know that man has lived and struggled 
through want and war, through pestilence 
and famine, through ignorance and crime, 
through fear and hope, on the old earth for 
millions and millions of years. 

At last we know that infallible popes, and 
countless priests and clergymen, who had 
been "called," filled with the Holy Ghost, 
and presidents of colleges, kings, emperors 
and executives of nations had mistaken the 



48 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

blundering guesses of ignorant savages for 
the wisdom of an infinite God. 

At last we know that the story of creation, 
of the beginning of things, as told in the 
" sacred book" is not only untrue, but utterly 
absurd and idiotic. Now we know that the 
inspired writers did not know and that the 
God who inspired them did not know. 

We are no longer misled by myths and 
legends. We rely upon facts. The world is 
our witness and the stars testify for us. 

What have the worldly done ? 

They have investigated the religions of 
the world — have read the sacred books, the 
prophecies, the commandments, the rules of 
conduct. They have studied the symbols, 
the ceremonies, the prayers and sacrifices. 
And they have shown that all religions are 
substantially the same — produced by the 
same causes — that all rest on a misconception 
of the facts in nature — that all are founded on 
ignorance and fear, on mistake and mys- 
tery. 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 49 

They have found that Christianity is like 
the rest — that it was not a revelation, but a 
natural growth — that its gods and devils, 
its heavens and hells, were borrowed — that 
its ceremonies and sacraments were souve- 
nirs of other religions — that no part of it came 
from heaven, but that it was all made by 
savage man. They found that Jehovah was 
a tribal god and that his ancestors had lived 
on the banks of the Euphrates, the Tigris, 
the Ganges and the Nile, and these ances- 
tors were traced back to still more savage 
forms. 

They found that all the sacred books were 
filled with inspired mistake and sacred 
absurdity. 

But, say the Christians, we have the only 
inspired book. We have the Old Testament 
and the New. — Where did you get the Old 
Testament? From the Jews? — Yes. 

Let me tell you about it. 

After the Jews returned from Babylon, 
about 400 years before Christ, Ezra com- 



50 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

menced making the Bible. You will find an 
account of this in the Bible. 

We know that Genesis was written after the 
captivity — because it was from the Babyloni- 
ans that the Jews got the story of the Crea- 
tion — of Adam and Eve, of the Garden — of 
the serpent, and the tree of life — of the flood 
— and from them they learned about the 
Sabbath. 

You [find nothing about that holy day 
in Judges, Joshua, Samuel, Kings or 
Chronicles — nothing in Job, the Psalms, in 
Esther, Solomon's Song or Ecclesiastes. 
Only in books written by Ezra after the re- 
turn from Babylon. 

When Ezra finished the inspired book, he 
placed it in the temple. It was written on 
the skins of beasts, and, so far as we know, 
there was but one. 

What became of this Bible? 

Jerusalem was taken by Titus about 70 
years after Christ. The temple was destroyed 
and, at the request of Josephus, the Holy 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 51 

Bible was sent to Vespasian the Emperor, at 
Rome. 

And this Holy Bible has never been seen 
or heard of since. So much for that. 

Then there was a copy, or rather a trans- 
lation, called the Septuagint. 

How was that made ? 

It is said that Ptolemy Soter and his son 
Ptolemy Philadelphia obtained a translation 
of the Jewish Bible. This translation was 
made by seventy persons. 

At that time the Jewish Bible did not con- 
tain Daniel, Ecclesiastes, but few of the 
Psalms and only a part of Isaiah. 

What became of this translation known as 
the Septuagint ? 

It was burned in the Bruchium Library 
forty-seven years before Christ. 

Then there was another so-called copy of 
part of the Bible, known as the Samaritan 
Roll of the Pentateuch. 

But this is not considered of any value. 

Have we a true copy of the Bible that was 



52 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

in the temple at Jerusalem — the one sent to 
Vespasian ? 

Nobody knows. 

Have we a true copy of the Septuagint ? 

Nobody knows. 

What is the oldest manuscript of the Bible 
we have in Hebrew? 

The oldest manuscript we have in Hebrew 
was written in the ioth century after Christ. 
The oldest pretended copy we have of the 
Septuagint written in Greek was made in the 
5th century after Christ. 

If the Bible was divinely inspired, if it was 
the actual word of God, we have no authen- 
ticated copy. The original has been lost and 
we are left in the darkness of Nature. 

It is impossible for us to show that our 
bible is correct. We have no standard. Many 
of the books in our bible contradict each 
other. Many chapters appear to be incom- 
plete and parts of different books are written 
in the same words, showing that both could 
not have been original. The 19th and 20th 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 53 

chapters of 2nd Kings and the 37th and 38th 
chapters of Isaiah are exactly the same. So 
is the 36th chapter of Isaiah from the 2nd 
verse the same as the 18th chapter of 2nd 
Kings from the 2nd verse. 

So, it is perfectly apparent that there could 
have been no possible propriety in inspiring 
the writers of Kings and the writers of 
Chronicles. The books are substantially the 
same, differing in a few mistakes — in a few 
falsehoods. The same is true of Leviticus 
and Numbers. The books do not agree 
either in facts or philosophy. They differ as 
the men differed who wrote them. 

What have the worldly done ? 

They have investigated the phenomena of 
nature. They have invented ways to use the 
forces of the world, the weight of falling 
water — of moving air. They have changed 
water to steam, invented engines — the tireless 
giants that work for man. The have made 
lightning a messenger and slave. They 
invented movable type, taught us the art of 



54 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

printing and made it possible to save and 
transmit the intellectual wealth of the world. 
They connected continents with cables, cities 
and towns with the telegraph — brought the 
world into one family — made intelligence in- 
dependent of distance. They taught us how 
to build homes, to obtain food, to weave 
cloth. They covered the seas with iron ships 
and the land with roads and steeds of steel. 
They gave us the tools of all the trades — the 
implements of labor. They chiseled statues, 
painted pictures and "witched the world" with 
form and color. They have found *:he cause 
of and the cure for many maladies that afflict 
the flesh and minds of men. They have 
given us the instruments of music and the 
great composers and performers have changed 
the common air to tones and harmonies that 
intoxicate, exalt and purify the soul. 

They have rescued us from the prisons of 
fear, and snatched our souls from the fangs 
and claws of superstition's loathsome, crawl- 
ing, flying beasts. They have given us the 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 55 

liberty to think and the courage to express 
our thoughts. They have changed the 
frightened, the enslaved, the kneeling, the 
prostrate into men and women — clothed them 
in their right minds and made them truly free. 
They have uncrowned the phantoms, wrested 
the scepters from the ghosts and given this 
world to the children of men. They have 
driven from the heart the fiends of fear and 
extinguished the flames of hell. 

They have read a few leaves of the great 
volume — deciphered some of the records writ- 
ten on stone by the tireless hands of time in 
the dim past. They have told us something 
of what has been done by wind and wave, by 
fire and frost, by life and death, the ceaseless 
workers, the pauseless forces of the world. 

They have enlarged the horizon of the 
known, changed the glittering specks that 
shine above us to wheeling worlds, and filled 
all space with countless suns. 

They have found the qualities of substances, 
the nature of things — how to analyze, separate 



56 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

and combine, and have enabled us to use the 
good and avoid the hurtful. 

They have given us mathematics in the 
higher forms, by means of which we measure 
the astronomical spaces, the distances to 
stars, the velocity at which the heavenly 
bodies move, their density and weight, and 
by which the mariner navigates the waste and 
trackless seas. They have given us all we 
have of knowledge, of literature and art. 
They have made life worth living. They 
have filled the world with conveniences, com- 
forts and luxuries. 

All this has been done by the worldly — by 
those who were not "called" or "set apart" 
or filled with the Holy Ghost or had the 
slightest claim to "apostolic succession." The 
men who accomplished these things were not 
"inspired." They had no revelation — no 
supernatural aid. They were not clad in 
sacred vestments, and tiaras were not upon 
their brows. They were not even ordained. 
They used their senses, observed and recorded 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON 57 

facts. They had confidence in reason. They 
were patient searchers for the truth. They 
turned their attention to the affairs of this 
world. They were not saints. They were 

sensible men. They worked for themselves, 
for wife and child and for the benefit of all. 

To these men we are indebted for all we 
are, for all we know, for all we have. They 
were the creators of civilization — the founders 
of free States — the saviors of liberty — the 
destroyers of superstition — the great captains 
in the army of progress. 



IV. 

Whom shall we thank ? 

Standing here at the close of the 19th cen- 
tury — amid the trophies of thought — the 
triumphs of genius — here under the flag of the 
Great Republic— knowing something of the 
history of man — here on this day that has 
been set apart for thanksgiving, I most 
reverently thank the good men, the good 
women of the past, I thank the kind fathers, 
the loving mothers of the savage days. I 
thank the father who spoke the first gentle 
word, the mother who first smiled upon her 
babe. I thank the first true friend. I thank 
the savages who hunted and fished that they 
and their babes might live. I thank those 
who cultivated the ground and changed the 
forests into farms — those who built rude 

homes and watched the faces of their happy 

(58) 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 59 

children in the glow of fireside flames — those 
who domesticated horses, cattle and sheep — 
those who invented wheels and looms and 
taught us to spin and weave — those who by 
cultivation changed wild grasses into wheat 
and corn, changed bitter things to fruit and 
worthless weeds to flowers that sowed within 
our souls the seeds of Art. I thank the poets 
of the dawn — the tellers of legends — the 
makers of myths — the singers of joy and grief, 
of hope and love. I thank the artists who 
chiseled forms in stone and wrought with 
light and shade the face of man. I thank the 
philosophers, the thinkers, who taught us how 
to use our minds in the great search for truth. 
I thank the astronomers who explored the 
heavens, told us the secrets of the stars, the 
glories of the constellations — the geologists 
who found the story of the world in fossil 
forms, in memoranda kept in ancient rocks, 
in lines written by waves, by frost and fire — 
the anatomists who sought in muscle, nerve 
and bone for all the mysteries of life — the 



60 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

chemists who unraveled Nature's work that 
they might learn her art — the physicians who 
have laid the hand of science on the brow of 
pain, the hand whose magic touch restores — 
the surgeons who have defeated Nature's self 
and forced her to preserve the lives of those 
she labored to destroy. 

I thank the discoverers of chloroform and 
ether, the two angels who give to their be- 
loved sleep, and wrap the throbbing brain in 
the soft robes of dreams. I thank the great 
inventors— those who gave us movable type 
and the press, by means of which great 
thoughts and all discovered facts are made 
immortal — the inventors of engines, of the 
great ships, of the railways, the cables and 
telegraphs. I thank the great mechanics, the 
workers in iron and steel, in wood and stone. 
I thank the inventors and makers of the num- 
berless things of use and luxury. 

I thank the industrious men, the loving 
mothers, the useful women. They are the 
benefactors of our race. 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 6l 

The inventor of pins did a thousand times 
more good than all the popes and cardinals, 
the bishops and priests — than all the clergy- 
men and parsons, exhorters and theologians 
that ever lived. 

The inventor of matches did more for the 
comfort and convenience of mankind than all 
the founders of religions and the makers of 
all creeds — than all malicious monks and 
selfish saints. 

I thank the honest men and women who 
have expressed their sincere thoughts, who 
have been true to themselves and have pre- 
served the veracity of their souls. 

I thank the thinkers of Greece and Rome, 
Zeno and Epicurus, Cicero and Lucretius. — 
I thank Bruno, the bravest, and Spinoza, the 
subtlest of men. 

I thank Voltaire, whose thought lighted 
a flame in the brain of man, unlocked the 
doors of superstition's cells and gave liberty 
to many millions of his fellowmen. Voltaire 
— a name that sheds light. Voltaire— 



62 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

a star that superstition's darkness cannot 
quench. 

I thank the great poets — the dramatists. I 
thank Horner and Aeschylus, and I thank 
Shakespeare above them all. I thank Burns 
for the heart-throbs he changed into songs, 
for his lyrics of flame. I thank Shelley for his 
Skylark. Keats for his Grecian Urn and 
Byron for his Prisoner of Chillon. I thank 
the great novelists. I thank the great sculp- 
tors. I thank the unknown man who moulded 
and chiseled the Venus de Milo. I thank the 
great painters. I thank Rembrandt and Corot. 
I thank all who have adorned, enriched and 
ennobled life — all who have created the great, 
the noble, the heroric and artistic ideals. 

I thank the statesmen who have preserved 
the rights of man. I thank Paine whose 
genius sowed the seeds of independence in the 
hearts of 76. I thank Jefferson whose mighty 
words for liberty have made the circuit of the 
globe. I thank the founders, the defenders, 
the saviours of the Republic. I thank Eric- 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 63 

son, the greatest mechanic of his century, for 
the monitor. I thank Lincoln for the Proc- 
lamation. I thank Grant for his victories 
and the vast host that fought for the right, 
— for the freedom of man. I thank them 
all — the living and the dead. 

I thank the great scientists — those who 
have reached the foundation, the bed rock — 
who have built upon facts — the great scien- 
tists, in whose presence theologians look silly 
and feel malicious. 

The scientists never persecuted, never im- 
prisoned their fellowmen. They forged no 
chains, built no dungeons, erected no scaf- 
folds — tore no flesh with red hot pincers — 
dislocated no joints on racks — crushed no 
bones in iron boots — extinguished no eyes — 
tore out no tongues and lighted no fagots. 
They did not pretend to be inspired — did not 
claim to be prophets or saints or to have been 
born again. They were only intelligent and 
honest men. They did not appeal to force 
or fear. They did not regard men as slaves 



64 A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 

to be ruled by torture, by lash and chain, nor 
as children to be cheated with illusions, rocked 
in the cradle of an idiot creed and soothed by 
a lullaby of lies. 

They did not wound — they healed. They 
did not kill — they lengthened life. They did 
not enslave — they broke the chains and made 
men free. They sowed the seeds of knowl- 
edge and many millions have reaped, are 
reaping, and will reap the harvest of joy. 

I thank Humboldt and Helmholtz and 
Haeckel and Biichner. I thank Lamarck and 
Darwin — Darwin who revolutionized the 
thought of the intellectual world. I thank 
Huxley and Spencer. I thank the scientists 
one and all. 

I thank the heroes, the destroyers of preju- 
dice and fear — the dethroners of savage gods 
— the extinguishers of hate's eternal fire — the 
heroes, the breakers of chains — the founders 
of free states — the makers of just laws — the 
heroes who fought and fell on countless fields 
- — the heroes whose dungeons became shrines 



A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 65 

—the heroes whose blood made scaffolds 
sacred — the heroes, the apostles of reason, 
the disciples of truth, the soldiers of freedom 
— the heroes who held high the holy torch 
and filled the world with light. 

With all my heart I thank them all. 



TRIBUTE TO HENRY WARD BEECHER. 

HENRY WARD BEECHER was born 
in a Puritan penitentiary, of which his 
father was one of the wardens — a prison with 
very narrow and closely-grated windows. 
Under its walls w r ere the rayless, hopeless 
and measureless dungeons of the damned, 
and on its roof fell the shadow of God's eternal 
frown. In this prison the creed and catechism 
were primers for children, and from a pure 
sense of duty their loving hearts were stained 
and scarred with the religion of John 
Calvin. 

In those days the home of an orthodox 
minister was an inquisition in which babes 
were tortured for the good of their souls. 
Children then, as now, rebelled against the 

infamous absurdities and cruelties of the creed. 

(67) 



68 A TRIBUTE. 

No Calvinist was ever able, unless with 
blows, to answer the questions of his child. 
Children were raised in what was called "the 
nurture and admonition of the Lord" — that 
is to say, their wills were broken or subdued, 
their natures were deformed and dwarfed, 
their desires defeated or destroyed, and their 
development arrested or perverted. Life was 
robbed of its Spring, its Summer and its 
Autumn. Children stepped from the cradle 
into the snow. No laughter, no sunshine, 
no joyous, free, unburdened days. God, an 
infinite detective, watched them from above, 
and Satan, with malicious leer, was waiting 
for their souls below. Between these mon- 
sters life was passed. Infinite consequences 
were predicated of the smallest action, and a 
burden greater than a God could bear was 
placed upon the heart and brain of every 
child. To think, to ask questions, to doubt, 
to investigate, were acts of rebellion. To 
express pity for the lost, writhing in the dun- 
geons below, was simply to give evidence 



A TRIBUTE. 69 

that the enemy of souls had been at work 
within their hearts. 

Among all the religions of this world — 
from the creed of cannibals who devoured 
flesh, to that of Calvinists who polluted souls 
— there is none, there has been none, there 
will be none, more utterly heartless and in- 
human than was the orthodox Congrega- 
tionalism of New England in the year of grace 
1813. It despised every natural joy, hated 
pictures, abhorred statues as lewd and lustful 
things, execrated music, regarded nature as 
fallen and corrupt, man as totally depraved 
and woman as somewhat worse. The theatre 
was the vestibule of perdition, actors the ser- 
vants of Satan, and Shakespeare a trifling 
wretch, whose words were seeds of death. 
And yet the virtues found a welcome, cordial 
and sincere; duty was done as understood; 
obligations were discharged; truth was told; 
self-denial was practised for the sake of 
others, and many hearts were good and true 
in spite of book and creed. 



70 A TRIBUTE. 

In this atmosphere of theological miasma, 
in this hideous dream of superstition, in this 
penitentiary, moral and austere, this babe first 
saw the imprisoned gloom. The natural 
desires ungratified, the laughter suppressed, 
the logic brow-beaten by authority, the humor 
frozen by fear — of many generations — were 
in this child, a child destined to rend and 
wreck the prison's walls. 

Through the grated windows of his cell, 
this child, this boy, this man, caught glimpses 
of the outer world, of fields and skies. New 
thoughts were in his brain, new hopes within 
his heart. Another heaven bent above his 
life. There came a revelation of the beautiful 
and real. Theology grew mean and small. 
Nature wooed and won and saved this 
mighty soul. 

Her countless hands were sowing seeds 
within his tropic brain. All sights and 
sounds — all colors, forms and fragments — 
were stored within the treasury of his mind. 
His thoughts were moulded by the graceful 



A TRIBUTE. 71 

curves of streams, by winding paths in woods, 
the charm of quiet country roads, and lanes 
grown indistinct with weeds and grass — by 
vines that cling and hide with leaf and flower 
the crumbling wall's decay — by cattle stand- 
ing in the summer pools like statues of 
content. 

There was within his words the subtle 
spirit of the season's change — of everything 
that is, of everything that lies between the 
slumbering seeds, that, half- awakened by the 
April rain, have dreams of heaven's blue, and 
feel the amorous kisses of the sun, and that 
strange tomb wherein the alchemist doth give 
to death's cold dust the throb and thrill of 
life again. He saw with loving eyes the 
willows of the meadow-streams grow red 
beneath the glance of Spring — the grass along 
the marsh's edge — the stir of life beneath the 
withered leaves — the moss below the drip of 
snow — the flowers that give their bosoms to 
the first south wind that wooes — the sad and 
timid violets that only bear the gaze of love 



72 A TRIBUTE. 

from eyes half closed — the ferns, where fancy 
gives a thousand forms with but a single 
plan — the green and sunny slopes enriched 
with daisy's silver and the cowslip's 
gold. 

As in the leafless woods some tree, aflame 
with life, stands like a rapt poet in the heed- 
less crowd, so stood this man among his 
fellowmen. 

All there is of leaf and bud, of flower and 
fruit, of painted insect life, and all the winged 
and happy children of the air that Summer 
holds beneath her dome of blue, were known 
and loved by him. He loved the yellow 
Autumn fields, the golden stacks, the happy 
homes of men, the orchard's bending boughs, 
the sumach's flags of flame, the maples with 
transfigured leaves, the tender yellow of the 
beech, the wondrous harmonies of brown and 
gold — the vines where hang the clustered 
spheres of wit and mirth. He loved the 
winter days, the whirl and drift of snow — all 
forms of frost — the rage and fury of the 



A TRIBUTE. 73 

storm, when in the forest, desolate and strip- 
ped, the brave old pine towers green and 
grand — a prophecy of Spring. He heard the 
rhythmic sounds of Nature's busy strife, the 
hum of bees, the songs of birds, the eagle's 
cry, the murmur of the streams, the sighs and 
lamentations of the winds, and all the voices 
of the sea. He loved the shores, the vales, 
the crags and cliffs, the city's busy streets, 
the introspective, silent plain, the solemn 
splendors of the night, the silver sea of dawn, 
and evening's clouds of molten gold. The 
love of Nature freed this loving man. 

One by one the fetters fell; the gratings 
disappeared, the sunshine smote the roof, and 
on the floors of stone light streamed from 
open doors. He realized the darkness and 
despair, the cruelty and hate, the starless 
blackness of the old, maglignant creed. The 
flower of pity grew and blossomed in his 
heart. The selfish " consolation" filled his 
eyes with tears. He saw that what is called 
the Christian's hope is, that, among the 



74 A TRIBUTE. 

countless billions wrecked and lost, a meagre 
few perhaps may reach the eternal shore — a 
hope that, like the desert rain, gives neither 
leaf nor bud — a hope that gives no joy, no 
peace, to any great and loving soul. It is 
the dust on which the serpent feeds that coils 
in heartless breasts. 

Day by day the wrath and vengeance faded 
from the sky — the Jewish God grew vague 
and dim — the threats of torture and eternal 
pain grew vulgar and absurd, and all the 
miracles seemed strangely out of place. 
They clad the Infinite in motley garb, 
and gave to aureoled heads the cap and 
bells. 

Touched by the pathos of all human life, 
knowing the shadows that fall on every 
heart — the thorns in every path, the sighs, 
the sorrows, and the tears that lie between a 
mother's arms and death's embrace — this 
great and gifted man denounced, denied, and 
damned with all his heart the fanged and 
frightful dogma that souls were made to feed 



A TRIBUTE. 75 

the eternal hunger — ravenous as famine — of 
a God's revenge. 

Take out this fearful, fiendish, heartless 
lie — compared with which all other lies are 
true — and the great arch of orthodox religion 
crumbling" falls. 

To the average man the Christian hell and 
heaven are only words. He has no scope of 
thought. He lives but in a dim, impoverished 
now. To him the past is dead — the future 
still unborn. He occupies with downcast 
eyes that narrow line of barren, shifting sand 
that lies between the flowing seas. But 
Genius knows all time. For him the dead 
all live and breathe, and act their countless 
parts again. All human life is in his now, 
and every moment feels the thrill of all 
to be. 

No one can overestimate the good ac- 
complished by this marvelous, many-sided 
man. He helped to slay the heart-devouring 
monster of the Christian world. He tried to 
civilize the church, to humanize the creeds, 



76 A TRIBUTE. 

to soften pious breasts of stone, to take the 
fear from mothers' hearts, the chains of creed 
from every brain, to put the star of hope in 
every sky and over every grave. Attacked 
on every side, maligned by those who preached 
the law of love, he wavered not, but fought 
whole-hearted to the end. 

Obstruction is but virtue's foil. From 
thwarted light leaps colors flame. The 
stream impeded has a song. 

He passed from harsh and cruel creeds to 
that serene philosophy that has no place for 
pride or hate, that threatens no revenge, that 
looks on sin as stumblings of the blind and 
pities those who fall, knowing that in the 
souls of all there is a sacred yearning for the 
light. He ceased to think of man as some- 
thing thrust upon the world — an exile from 
some other sphere. He felt at last that men 
are part of Nature's self — kindred of all life — 
the gradual growth of countless years ; that 
all the sacred books were helps until out- 
grown, and all religions, rough and devious 



A TRIBUTE. 77 

paths that man has worn with weary feet in 
sad and painful search for truth and peace. 
To him these paths were wrong, and yet all 
gave the promise of success. He knew that 
all the streams, no matter how they wander, 
turn and curve amid the hills or rocks, or 
linger in the lakes and pools, must some time 
reach the sea. These views enlarged his 
soul and made him patient with the world, 
and while the wintry snows of age were fall- 
ing on his head, Spring, with all her wealth 
of bloom, was in his heart. 

The memory of this ample man is now a 
part of Nature's wealth. He battled for the 
rights of men. His heart was with the slave. 
He stood against the selfish greed of millions 
banded to protect the pirate's trade. His 
voice was for the right when freedom's friends 
were few. He taught the church to think 
and doubt. He did not fear to stand alone. 
His brain took counsel of his heart. To 
every foe he offered reconcilation's hand. He 
loved this land of ours, and added to its glory 



78 A TRIBUTE. 

through the world. He was the greatest 
orator that stood within the pulpit's narrow 
curve. He loved the liberty of speech. There 
was no trace of bigot in his blood. He was 
a brave and generous man. 

With reverent hands, I place this tribute 
on his tomb. 



AN ENTIRELY NEW EDITION. 



THE 

Writes ol Col. 1 l igpon. 

VOLUME OIVE 1VOW READY. 

Volume 1 • Large octavo, 1431 pages, wide margins, large 
and handsome type ; fine steel portrait ; elegantly 
bound in cloth, gold back and side stamps ; marble 
edges ; half morocco, full sheep, library style. 

THE friends and admirers of Mr. Ingersoll's writings have long 
wanted just such a work as this. Hitherto, the publisher has 
been content with issuing each lecture, argument and other 
production separately. This volume brings together no less than 
nineteen of the Colonel's famous lectures on religious and patriotic 
subjects, and several of the orations, tributes and selections that have 
become classics in literature. It is a delight to find them here in 
such admirable and ready form for preservation and reference. The 
edition will doubtless soon be exhausted, and a second volume is 
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all Col. Ingersoll's writings and sayings, and those who treat them- 
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C01TTE1TT3 ©^ VOIjITME ±. 
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The Ghosts ; The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child ; The Centennial Oration, 
or Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1876. "What I Know About Farming 
in Illinois ; Speech at Cincinnati in 1876, nominating James G. Blaine for the 
Presidency ; The Past Rises Before Me ; or, Vision of War, an extract from a 
Speech made at the Soldiers and Sailors Reunion at Indianapolis, Indiana, 
Sept. 21, 1876 ; A Tribute to Ebon C. Ingersoll ; The Grant Banquet ; Crimes 
Against Criminals ; Tribute to the Rev. Alexander Clarke. Some Mistakes of 
Moses ; What Must We Do to be Saved? Blasphemy, Argument in the trial of 
C. B. Reynolds. Six Interviews with Robert G. Ingersoll on Six Sermons by 
the Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage, D. D. ; to which is added a Talmagian Catechism, 
and four Prefaces, which contain some of Mr. Ingersoll's best and brightest 
sayings. 

Price, postpaid, cloth $8.50 ; half morocco $5.00 ; full sheep $5.00. 

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